History of medicine

From ArticleWorld

The history of medicine is a historical field that deals with the evolution of medical science and practice. The human society has had medical practices ever since its dawn, although it has not always been an experimental and properly documented science.


Medicine has been practiced ever since the antiquity. Egyptians have been known to practice medicine at a high level, performing even surgeries around 2750 BC. Egyptian medicine has been practiced along with magic and empirical treatment, in specialized medical institution. By the 19th Dynasty, the Egyptian medical system included medical insurances and sick leave.

A similarly old medical practice has been recorded in India. The Indian religions did not assume that life and diseases are pre-determined, allowing the life to be prolonged by human effort. Medical students were taught not just medical science and procedures (including anatomy, embryology or surgeries), but also spiritual guidelines. Indian trainees had to pass a test after several years of education.

Early European societies also had various medical practices.

Medicine in the Middle Age

European medicine in the Middle Age was very limited. The anatomical knowledge was lacking, and only a few procedures were known. Very deadly epidemics were common, as the European doctors could do nothing to stop them. The medical practice suffered many interferences from religious beliefs as well.

By comparison, Islamic medicine was far more advanced. In the Middle Ages, Islamic medicine was the most advanced in Europe and Asia, especially in the field of ophtalmology.

Modern medicine

After the Renaissance, several scientists turned their attention to the field of medicine. Several diseases were scientifically documented, many processes (like blood circulation) were explained and a great number of procedures were documented and standardized. With the advancement of chemistry in the 18th century, medicine was revolutionized and became an active scientific field. The germ theory of disease preceded the principles of antisepsis, and, in 1880, the antirabic vaccine was invented. Various fields like bacteriology strongly developed, allowing for better treatment and a drastic reduction of death rate.

The 20th century saw an incredible development of medicine. New examination and healing techniques were discovered, and the discovery of organ transplantation allowed for previously deadly conditions to be avoided. The safety of the treatments was also improved by imposing drastic quality and safety standards and by introducing very strict medical laws. Medicine became the active and extremely important field that it is today.